Sudan has agreed to open humanitarian access to war-torn areas of the country for the first time in eight years as part of a new roadmap enabling suspended peace talks to resume, a rebel leader said on Monday.
“We are expecting that the humanitarian situation is going to improve in Darfur, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile,” Yasir Arman, deputy head of a coalition of rebel groups, told Reuters.
The Sudanese government and major rebel groups agreed on Friday to the roadmap and signed a declaration confirming their commitment to it on Monday in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, which has hosted the talks for the past week.
“Peace is the ultimate goal of the government of Sudan,” Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, a leading member of Sudan’s transitional government, said after signing the agreement on Monday. “Peace will open a new path for the country. I appealed to the International Community to support the process.”
The political declaration sets out critical issues to guide the talks. The Cessation of Hostilities will open up humanitarian corridors in conflict-prone regions of Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and Darfur where the Sudan government has been battling rebels for decades.
Mohamed Hamdan Daqlu, deputy head of the ruling Sudan Sovereign Council, a coalition of the Transitional Military Council and opposition Forces of Freedom and Change , congratulated the opposition groups for signing the deal.
“We are partners and not enemies in this peace process. I reaffirm the commitment of the Sudanese government to continue negotiating with the opposition,” said Daqlu.
He appealed to the international community to support the peace initiative, adding that without their needed support the peace process won’t succeed.
El Hadi Idris, leader of SRF and Sudan Liberation Movement-Transitional Council said the deal reached between both sides demonstrates political will and commitment by the parties to end the conflict.
“During these few days we have spent with members of the Sudan Sovereign Council we have observed that they are serious and we are also serious about peace negotiations. The political will on both sides is assured. It is very rare to see conflicting parties fully cooperate,” said Idris.
He disclosed that the latest development marks a departure from past deals where the government signed a unilateral ceasefire with separate rebel groups.
“The other document on CoH is the first of its kind because we used to sign unilateral Cessation of Hostilities. This is the first time that all parties decided to join to sign the cessation of hostilities,” he added.
Idris urged the African Union Peace and Security Council as well as United Nations Security Council to support the effort and initiative led by South Sudan and to do whatever possible to issue a mandate that can accelerate the peace process.
The opposition groups under the SRF grouping include the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement /Army-Northern sector led by Malik Agar, Justice Equality Movement under Jibril Ibrahim, Democratic Union party led by Eltom Hajou and the Sudan Liberation Movement under Minni Minnawi and others.
These groups had fought against former Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and are now seeking to be included in the transitional government in Khartoum.